P90 Les Paul vs. Les Paul Special

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by Gravelrocks, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. Gravelrocks

    Gravelrocks Supporting Member

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    If you could only have one P90 guitar, would you rather have a 50's Les Paul or a 50's Les Paul Special? I'm not talking about from a value perspective, but interested to hear thoughts from a tonal perspective.
     
  2. CloneTone

    CloneTone Member

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    No question for me, I'd take this one (not actually mine):
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. FenderBigot

    FenderBigot Supporting Member

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    How much really different can they be?!? :huh

    FWIW... I have owned both and really could not tell much difference. :dunno
     
  4. 67blackcherry

    67blackcherry Member

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    This needs a poll....
    Special
    Junior (for the misguided souls who only like 1 pickup)
    54 Goldtop wraptail
    56 Goldtop TOM
    54-56 Black Beauty Custom


    For me, I’d probably pick the Custom but either way I’d still probably prefer a carved top to a Special.
     
  5. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    I've never owned a P90 guitar, let alone a vintage LP, but I've got a 02 LP Standard with BB Pro's and a 06 Faded LP Special with Pearly Gates(and 50's wiring ) and they are close enough in overdriven tone that you probably wouldn't tell them apart in a blind test. That said the Standard has a little more punch and compression and a tad more complexity in the tone. The Special is slightly more open and cleans up way better.

    Not sure how much the 50's wiring contribute to the difference over the thinner body, and I have a suspicion the 50's wiring does lower the output even when the volume is on 10.

    The Special of course is heaps lighter at under 7 pounds compared to the Standards weight relieved 9 pounds however the Standard has a much nicer (to me) neck shape.
     
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  6. katuna

    katuna Silver Supporting Member

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    I think a lot of it comes down to how your playing style melds with a flat topped guitar vs. a slightly arch topped guitar. I like both, but think I tend to pick a little more efficiently on a flat topped guitar. I don't know why and I'm sure if I had better technique it wouldn't matter.
     
  7. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    LP Sp, by a mile. I don't like the LP Standard look, and I would expect the Sp to weigh less.
     
  8. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Silver Supporting Member

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    I spent a fair amount of time comparing my VOS Special to an R4 that I owned and an R6 in a store that I'm friendly with. Not a lot of difference, to me or the guy in the store who's a good player and a tone guy.

    With all that though, there's something about an R4 that still draws me. I think I can resist...

    Edit to say I just noticed this thread is in Vintage Guitars, I probably just saw it in Trending Topic and didn't notice the specific subform. I feel shame but it might still work so I'll let it ride.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
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  9. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Silver Supporting Member

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    My Special is light relative to most of LPs. On the other hand I had a VOS Junior that was pretty heavy. Just comes down to the specific hunk of mahogany.
     
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  10. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    Yes, it's a question of probabilities, which is why I used "expect". My LP Sp weighs 9lb, it didn't bother me when I bought it, but I don't like it so much as I've got older and bought lighter guitars.
     
  11. Alfi27

    Alfi27 Member

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    I've always really loved the look of 1954 Les Pauls (goldtop with wrap), but I'm not entirely sure if I would pick one over a TV Yellow SC Special if I had to choose just one. It would have to come down to the weight and tone of the individual guitars I reckon, assuming they have similar necks. It should ideally be under 8lbs, and that's bordering on "unhealthy" for a 1954 GT.
     
  12. WordMan

    WordMan Silver Supporting Member

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    I had a '57 LP Special, and a 1973 "1954 Reissue" Black Beauty Alnico+P-90. 1-piece mahogany body; weighed 8 lbs.

    The LP Special was wonderful in all the ways you want. The thicker BB body had more beef. A cranked amp, bridge volume on 8.5, tone on ~4-5 = a rock and roll machine. And in the middle position with the Alnico staple added, a bit more Tone = Stonesy goodness.
     
  13. zguitar71

    zguitar71 Supporting Member

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    Well if it is only about playing and the sound the special is lighter (usually) and a bit meaner imo. That translates into a killer guitar. However, when I put some emotion into it the gold top rules the roost. I love Goldtops and it’s my number one dream guitar. I have a Tokai (mij) special and a Heritage 150 Goldtop. The Tokai is the most resonant solid body I have ever owned and over the last 37 years that is quite a lot. It is also focused in the lower mids and that translates into one mean guitar. I pug straight into my amp for gigs and crank it up, the P90s are throwbacks and it sounds glorious and snarly. It really isn’t a beautifully clean guitar though with it so focused on the mids the way it is. The 150 GT had mids and upper mids and it can also make an amp scream but when the volume is rolled back it has more sparkle on the top end. The pickups are Tyson Tonelabs and comparable to the Throbaks in construction. The difference in tone for the two, imo, comes down to a maple cap or no maple cap.
     
  14. BadAssBill

    BadAssBill southofnash.com Silver Supporting Member

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    I've owned a few specials, an R6 (probably the most beautiful one ever made) and currently own a 59 jr. All very different guitars. I thought the R6 was the most mellow of the tones...not as angry as the specials/jr.
    A lot of the purists only like one PU in the JR's and the slab of mahogany does something to the tone. I like the versatility of a special with dual PU"s but can't argue with the tone I do get from that one pickup in the Jr.
     
  15. 54GT

    54GT Silver Supporting Member

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    I've had both a 57 special and a 54 gold top, and the answer would depend on what you are looking for. the cartoon version: if you are looking for a straight ahead rock machine I would probably go with the Special -- it can get meaner than the LP. anything else, the gold top. While the real feature is the neck pickup, if you get the height on the bridge pickup right, you can even do quasi-Tele tones, and between that and the neck there is an incredible variety of great tone available in middle position. If I had to keep only one, it would be the gold top.
     
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  16. Phila67

    Phila67 Member

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    For the win...
     
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  17. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

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    I've also owned both - a '53 Goldtop and a '57 Special. For me it was no contest - the Goldtop just had more of everything. I ended up trading the Special straight up for a '54 Custom. Then I had two beautiful guitars that complemented each other nicely.
     
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  18. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    I had a 2008 CS LP Special, and while it was a good guitar, my 2019 R4LP Historic is way better.
     
  19. Voxshall

    Voxshall Member

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    This and it’s not even close, so much mojo.
     
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  20. TheMemoryEstate

    TheMemoryEstate Member

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